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been looking at 4th gens

Old 04-09-2015, 07:33 AM
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been looking at 4th gens

so i used to have a 3th gen. i sold it a while back because it needed paint, the t tops leaking had done some damage to the floor, and the interior needed to be replaced. it also burned a little oil. i could have spent allot more then it was worth on it so i sold it to someone that paints their own cars, i do not have the ability to paint a car and spending $4k on a paint job on a $800 just didnt make sense to me.

well i got the "bug" again i would like to buy another camaro, i would like to get a car before the prices continue to climb. it seems that's the direction the market is headed. i have been looking on craigslist and it seems the prices are going up. things like 305 camaros and even v6 camaros seem to climbing. i have a really nice clean 91 cavalier RS 3.1 convertible and its been a fun car but it just isnt a camaro.

so i am looking at 4th gens, particularly LT1 cars because they seem to be the most affordable..... sadly in this dump state of NY most of them are rotted.... i see rust and i automatically run in the other direction. i wouldnt give $500 for a rust bucket.

i am going to go look at a 96 Z28 today or tomorrow. its a california car that has never seen salt. he told me its a very clean car. it has some minor issues, it is throwing a code for crankshaft position sensor, im guessing either CPS sensor OR opti. other issue is that it seems to have a small oil leak, not sure where that could be coming from. i know these cars sometimes have issues with leaking oil from the intake, i guess it doesnt leak really bad but it has an oil leak no less. as long as it isnt rear main seal i can fix everything else pretty easily. i guess this car has a rebuilt engine and trans. he has documentation for the trans but nothing on the engine. i might be able to pick this car up around the $3k range.

i kind of want a 4th gen because they were pretty good performers stock and had better gas mileage then a 3rd gen. most 3rd gens are v6 or 305 stock and im not looking to pull another engine to get decent performance. my old car was a 1989 camaro RS and i had to swap in a 350 TBI, heads, cam, throttle body, rear axle ect to get decent performance out of it. stock it was a turkey. funny thing is i see a 1989 RS like my old car for sale on craigslist, yes real low milage but still the guy is trying to get $11K for it. i would never pay $11K
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:47 AM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

i looked at two cars already. both were rotted and one did not run needed an opti. im not paying $3k for a car that has any significant amount of rust

so is $3100 a good price for a LT1 car with no rust and a rebuilt engine and trans..... body is high mileage but that does not really matter
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:43 AM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

When I buy another camaro it will not have an opti. And i would have never bought the one I have knowing the issues that come with them. Mind you there are a lot of good working ones out there.
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Old 04-09-2015, 09:05 AM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

Originally Posted by FredM View Post
When I buy another camaro it will not have an opti. And i would have never bought the one I have knowing the issues that come with them. Mind you there are a lot of good working ones out there.
i believe there are ways to make the opti a much more reliable system, i believe one of the ways is to remove the high voltage from the opti which basically just turns into an ignition trigger
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Old 04-09-2015, 09:29 AM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

Originally Posted by ad356 View Post

so i am looking at 4th gens, particularly LT1 cars because they seem to be the most affordable..... sadly in this dump state of NY most of them are rotted.... i see rust and i automatically run in the other direction. i wouldnt give $500 for a rust bucket.
My son lives in Cooperstown.... I can't believe how bad the rust problem is up there. Even worse than NJ.

i am going to go look at a 96 Z28 today or tomorrow. its a california car that has never seen salt. he told me its a very clean car. it has some minor issues, it is throwing a code for crankshaft position sensor, im guessing either CPS sensor OR opti.
CKP sensor has nothing to do with the Opti. The crank position sensor was added in 1996 as part of OBD-II, and is only there to pick up misfires. Car will run fine without it. However, erratic cam position signals from the Opti can throw the PCM's misfire calculations off.

other issue is that it seems to have a small oil leak, not sure where that could be coming from. i know these cars sometimes have issues with leaking oil from the intake, i guess it doesnt leak really bad but it has an oil leak no less. as long as it isnt rear main seal i can fix everything else pretty easily.
Common problem is where the back edge of the intake sits on the "china wall" at the top of the block, between the heads. No gasket, just a bead of RTV. Dries up and cracks due to the heat of the riser pipe from the EGR system.



i kind of want a 4th gen because they were pretty good performers stock and had better gas mileage then a 3rd gen. most 3rd gens are v6 or 305 stock and im not looking to pull another engine to get decent performance.
Bought my 94 brand new in 1994.... fuel mileage, totally stock was amazing. I could cruise the CA freeways at 80 MPH, and hold 30 MPG for a full tank of gas. Mixed driving was always better than 20 MPG. Driving in the major traffic congestion of northern NJ, it dropped to 17 MPG.

Personally, I did the "take the high voltage out of the Opti" when I had the stroker built in 1999. Use the cam position sensor in a stock, vented Opti (upgrade, since 93/94 is unvented) to feed a MoTeC M48Pro ECU driving 8 LS1 coils, and it easily/reliably runs into the 7,000+ RPM range. The cheapest way to get there is the Bailey Engineering LTCC, a black box that only needs the cam position signals, and drives the 8 LS1 coils.

Don't fear the Opti.... or the reaper.

Last edited by Injuneer; 04-09-2015 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 04-09-2015, 01:34 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

Originally Posted by Injuneer View Post
My son lives in Cooperstown.... I can't believe how bad the rust problem is up there. Even worse than NJ.



CKP sensor has nothing to do with the Opti. The crank position sensor was added in 1996 as part of OBD-II, and is only there to pick up misfires. Car will run fine without it. However, erratic cam position signals from the Opti can throw the PCM's misfire calculations off.



Common problem is where the back edge of the intake sits on the "china wall" at the top of the block, between the heads. No gasket, just a bead of RTV. Dries up and cracks due to the heat of the riser pipe from the EGR system.





Bought my 94 brand new in 1994.... fuel mileage, totally stock was amazing. I could cruise the CA freeways at 80 MPH, and hold 30 MPG for a full tank of gas. Mixed driving was always better than 20 MPG. Driving in the major traffic congestion of northern NJ, it dropped to 17 MPG.

Personally, I did the "take the high voltage out of the Opti" when I had the stroker built in 1999. Use the cam position sensor in a stock, vented Opti (upgrade, since 93/94 is unvented) to feed a MoTeC M48Pro ECU driving 8 LS1 coils, and it easily/reliably runs into the 7,000+ RPM range. The cheapest way to get there is the Bailey Engineering LTCC, a black box that only needs the cam position signals, and drives the 8 LS1 coils.

Don't fear the Opti.... or the reaper.

i went and looked at the car. looks like i can pick it up for $3200. the car is in decent shape for being 20 years old, little to no rust. some rust around the edge of the hood no rust in the back of the car where i have seen these cars rotted. car was sitting outside..... floor was bone dry so no t-top leaking issues. needs two new front tires (dry rotted), the oil leak repair, it has the CEL illuminated from the CPS issue. this car isnt perfect BUT NO rot. even though it had no plates on it i took it for a very short drive. car is quick and chirps the tires shifting into 2nd gear.

so is the CEL on because the opti is sending bad timing signals to the ECM or is the crank sensor bad?

car has a transmission that was rebuilt 20K ago by amco in 2007, the engine runs strong WITH no knocks and good oil pressure..... around 40 PSI and idle and goes up readily with RPMS. engine seems strong except for the oil leak which seems to me not too big of a deal to fix.

the brake light is on but there was fluid in the system, i think it needs to be re-bled. this car has only been driven 1,000 miles in the last couple of years as he never bothered to fix the CEL issue and that means in NYS you cannot get the car inspected.
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Old 04-09-2015, 01:35 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

considering that this car has the least amount of rust i have seen so far and it is a Z28 and not a V6 or an older dog 305 i think im going to buy it. did you really get 30 MPG with a LT1 V8? my current summer car 1991 cavalier convertible 3.1 does not get that
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Old 04-09-2015, 02:28 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

You can't tell if it's a CKP problem, or a problem with the Opti feeding bad info to the PCM. At least not without checking the CKP. Could be a faulty sensor, bad wiring, the reluctor gear being loose or crooked on the crank snout, or hitting something inside the timing cover. There are two different codes for the CKP.

The Opti would probably also show an occasional tach hiccup, or some stumbling. Can also cause surging at idle.

The serious rust appears to attack the subframes, as in where the suspension components attach. I can't believe some of the photos I've seen people post. My 94 has been in the garage so long, it's still totally rust free after 20 years.

My car was originally an 6-speed manual, and they have two overdrive gears... 5th @ 0.74:1 and 6th @ 0.50:1. Very efficient keeping the RPM at 70 MPH at 1,600 and at 80 MPH at 1,800. That's with the stock 3.42 rear axle. Cruising an open freeway at 70-80MPH for a couple hundred miles would reach, or exceed 30 MPG. Car had some minor "bolt ons", and a 125-shot of nitrous. At that point, probably a cold air intake, Borla 3" catback, throttle body airfoil and U/D pulleys. The last two are relatively useless.... you learn a lot in 20 years.

I'm an OCD mechanical engineer.... I kept meticulous records for the first 6 years.
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:22 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

Originally Posted by Injuneer View Post
You can't tell if it's a CKP problem, or a problem with the Opti feeding bad info to the PCM. At least not without checking the CKP. Could be a faulty sensor, bad wiring, the reluctor gear being loose or crooked on the crank snout, or hitting something inside the timing cover. There are two different codes for the CKP.

The Opti would probably also show an occasional tach hiccup, or some stumbling. Can also cause surging at idle.

The serious rust appears to attack the subframes, as in where the suspension components attach. I can't believe some of the photos I've seen people post. My 94 has been in the garage so long, it's still totally rust free after 20 years.

My car was originally an 6-speed manual, and they have two overdrive gears... 5th @ 0.74:1 and 6th @ 0.50:1. Very efficient keeping the RPM at 70 MPH at 1,600 and at 80 MPH at 1,800. That's with the stock 3.42 rear axle. Cruising an open freeway at 70-80MPH for a couple hundred miles would reach, or exceed 30 MPG. Car had some minor "bolt ons", and a 125-shot of nitrous. At that point, probably a cold air intake, Borla 3" catback, throttle body airfoil and U/D pulleys. The last two are relatively useless.... you learn a lot in 20 years.

I'm an OCD mechanical engineer.... I kept meticulous records for the first 6 years.
the car is pretty close to rust free, some minor rust on the hood lip but i think that might have been caused by a bug bra that was on the car. also some very minor rust under the rear trunk area but it was very minor. it was where the little piece of tin attaches to the floor. inside the quarter panels was clean as new, i know that area rots bad on third gens.

i also noticed something that i thought was strange with the exhaust. the car only seems to have 1 catalytic converter under the floor on the passenger side. the y pipe joins after the catalytic converter. where is the other cat?

the car did not have any tach hiccups or stumbling. the car was fast but not quite as fast as i expected, i do believe it is bone stock and i do believe that the CKP code causing the car to retard timing and not have all she's got. it didnt have a problem chirping the tires in the 1st to 2nd shift.

the car is high in mileage but im not to worried about it with the overall rust situation being very little, a rebuilt trans, and a healthy running engine that was apparently rebuilt. engine has good oil pressure so no issues there.

Last edited by ad356; 04-09-2015 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:31 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

My 93 still gets 18 city and 26ish when I drive it...wife obviously gets better lol!

I'm shocked you east coast guys get attacked with such rust issues... Wow

The oil leaks sounds minor unless its leaving puddles at every sitting. Drops I consider normal with these cars..

3k in my area sounds steep but I havnt checked the going price of a 4th gen

If I was shopping and didn't know much of the history I wish I knew of Fred back when I bought mine lol be mindfull of what he says...
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:38 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

Originally Posted by ad356 View Post
i also noticed something that i thought was strange with the exhaust. the car only seems to have 1 catalytic converter under the floor on the passenger side. the y pipe joins after the catalytic converter. where is the other cat?
The driver-side cat is up close to the exhaust manifold, positioned almost vertical.
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Last edited by GaryDoug; 04-09-2015 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 04-09-2015, 09:06 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

why did GM use two cats? i remember my third gen Y pipe came together before the cat so only one was needed. looking at cars locally they all seem to be in the 3-4k range for LT1's, LS1's are going $6-$12k depending upon condition. i looked at a car for $2,700 rust-bucket and the opti bad, car did not run at all couldnt even hear it run. $3,200 for something that doesnt have any rust issues even if it is a slight premium call me nuts but i will pay it.... i wouldnt give you $500 for rusted out junk. i looked at a 95 Z28 with a 6 speed but the damn thing was rotted underneath, he wanted $3500. i ran in the other direction
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Old 04-09-2015, 09:19 PM
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Re: been looking at 4th gens

Each bank of 4 cylinders is measured and controlled separately.
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